Northrop Grumman released a press release by email (here's the web link) this morning to unveil its concept for a next-generation bomber equipped with high-energy laser "defensive" (wink-wink) weapons.
Northrop offers various exotic new ways for the next-gen bomber to kill people, including this one:
"Drop special operations forces into combat using a modified air-launched cruise missile carrying a pressurized, self-contained pod."
That's thinking outside the box, for you. Any volunteers for the development test phase?
Northrop Grumman Unveils New Missions, Advanced Technology Weapons for Bombers During Virtual War Games
Contact: Brooks McKinney, APR
(310) 331-6610 office
(310) 864-3785 mobile
Northrop Grumman Unveils New Missions, Advanced Technology Weapons for
Bombers During Virtual War Games
Company's High-Energy Laser Bomber Concept Featured in Defense
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Dec. 10, 2007 - Next generation bombers
equipped with a high-energy-laser-based defensive system and other
advanced weapons could perform a variety of new interdiction, strike
and special forces missions according to a new virtual bomber concept
unveiled recently by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).
Northrop Grumman is the U.S. Air Force's prime contractor for
the B-2 stealth bomber, the flagship of the nation's long range strike
The company demonstrated its new high-energy laser (HEL) bomber
concept Sept. 26-27 during the Advanced Concepts Event (ACE) '07, an
annual virtual war-gaming exercise staged by the U.S. Air Force
Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate, Albuquerque, N.M.
Billed as a "warfighters-in-the-loop" event, ACE '07 was based
on a U.S. government-defined military scenario. It included
participation by U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and Air Force warfighters
located at military installations throughout the country collaborating
in real time over a network with Northrop Grumman employees. The weapon
systems used in the exercises -- both advanced and currently fielded
systems -- were represented by virtual, physics-based models provided
either by Northrop Grumman or one of the services.
"ACE '07 allowed military commanders to get a clear
understanding of how future bombers could participate effectively in
the prosecution of a variety of future military missions," explained
Robert Smerke, principal investigator for operations and simulation
analysis for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "By giving
bombers new types of offensive and defensive capabilities, we can
expand their utility and value to the military far beyond the
traditional long range strike role."
"The ACE '07 event also included an opportunity for Air Force
B-1, B-2 and B-52 pilots to collaborate on defining the preferred
characteristics, weapons load and mission roles for a next generation
long range strike platform," added Smerke.
Northrop Grumman engineers participated in ACE '07 from various
nodes of the company's geographically distributed network of virtual
battlefield environments known as the Cyber Warfare Integration Network
(CWIN). CWIN provides not only virtual models for airborne systems, but
also realistic terrain databases, and the operational command and
control software required to create a realistic battlefield
The HEL bomber concept was simulated using a reprogrammed
cockpit simulator located within the CWIN laboratory located at
Northrop Grumman's facility in El Segundo.
During the ACE exercises, the HEL bomber participated in a
variety of simulated missions that included using:
* Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to attack maritime
* Small Diameter Bomb IIs to attack fixed, high-value land
* Massive Ordnance Penetrators to attack hardened, deeply buried
targets such as bunkers and tunnel facilities;
* Miniature Air-Launched Decoys and Advanced Anti-Radiation
Guided Missiles to identify, suppress and/or destroy
surface-to-air missile sites; and
* the HEL bomber to drop special operations forces into combat
using a modified air-launched cruise missile carrying a
pressurized, self-contained pod.
Each HEL bomber mission was supported by one or more military
assets such as the Army's High Mobility Artillery Rocket System; the
Navy's EA-6B ICAP III electronic attack platform; the Navy's E-2D
tactical airborne warning and control system; the Army's E-8C Joint
Surveillance Target Attack Radar System; and the Air Force's RQ-4
Global Hawk aerial reconnaissance system.
The final mission of ACE '07 involved a first time
collaborative experiment with Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II
aircraft in which an F-35 accompanying the HEL bomber successfully
intercepted and destroyed four hostile airborne interceptors.
"In all cases, we demonstrated that the HEL bomber could be an
effective partner in helping to establish the air superiority required
for effective allied military operations to occur," added Smerke.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense
and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative
systems, products, and solutions in information and services,
electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial
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